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by Euro Reporter
2011-07-24 10:42:12
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Sarkozy approval rating at 11-month high: poll

President Nicolas Sarkozy's approval rating continued to rebound ahead of a 2012 election, a new poll found on Saturday, vaulting France's centre-right leader to his highest popularity rating since last August. The survey, carried out by pollster Ifop and to be published in Sunday's La Journal du Dimanche newspaper, showed Sarkozy had surged six points to 36 percent, the latest evidence of a rebound in his popularity.

Earlier this week, a separate poll showed an almost identical 5 point rise to 35 percent for Sarkozy. Sarkozy's approval rating hit its nadir, swooning to 28 percent in April, amid widespread disappointment over the economy.

But the Socialist opposition has since been roiled by the May arrest of former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn -- once seen as a potential standard-bearer for the party -- on charges of attempted rape. Despite the hints of a rebound for the French president, another recent poll indicated he would be soundly beaten by Socialist Francois Hollande in the second-round of a two-stage election -- losing by a 14-point margin.

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Girl’s kidnapping was 'Chechen wedding tradition'


A teenage girl whose forceful bundling into a BMW in the south of France sparked a nationwide appeal for witnesses was the victim of a traditional Chechen pre-marriage kidnapping, it emerged Friday. Witnesses had told how on Sunday three people in a BMW had snatched the previously unidentified girl, aged 16 or 17, as she left a park with a companion who appeared to be involved in the abduction. The manner of her disappearance led to a nationwide appeal for witnesses in a bid to find the girl, reportedly wearing a light-coloured skirt at the time of her abduction, from Privas in the south-eastern Ardeche region.

Police received calls from as far afield as Belgium and Switzerland from people who thought they might have seen her. An umbrella she left at the scene of the "crime" was sent to a laboratory for analysis in the hope of finding a clue as to her identity or that of her abductors. The main witness said that a Volkswagen Passat had cut them off as they tried to give chase. Another witness said they had seen a BMW acting suspiciously in the area shortly before the kidnapping.

Police eventually managed to identify the girl and trace her family to the south-western Haute-Garonne region, hundreds of kilometres (miles) away, where they found her unharmed on Thursday, and a source close to the enquiry said. Her family explained that she had simply fallen victim to the Chechen tradition whereby the groom's family kidnaps the bride-to-be ahead of the wedding. "The enquiry is still underway," the local prosecutor insisted, declining to comment on the Chechen connection.

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Let Belgium's Walloons join France, Front National leader suggests


Marine Le Pen says on Belgian national day that Paris should consider turning francophone half of politically riven Belgium into French region. When are foreigners not foreign, but Gallic compatriots in all but name? When they are French-speaking neighbours with a penchant for moules and frites, it seems. France's far-right Front National party is prepared to soften its notoriously hard line against immigrants in the case of its francophone Belgian cousins. Not that the party leader, Marine Le Pen, is suggesting all French-speaking Walloons come to France en masse; simply that Paris might consider taking on half of Belgium.

In a provocative statement issued on Belgium's national day, Le Pen said if Belgium could not remain united, Paris should "extend a hand" to the francophones and suggest they be allowed to decide whether to become a region of France. The idea would be laughable if the situation in Belgium were not so ridiculous. The Dutch-speaking north, where the Flamands live, and the French-speaking south, home to the Walloons, have been unable to agree on how the country should be run since an election last year. Brussels, a largely French-speaking enclave in the Flemish area, is particularly contested. As a result of the deadlock, the Belgians have now been without a government for more than 400 days. "The political situation that Belgium is going through is getting worse, appears to have no solution and has left both Walloons and Flamands in a terrible uncertainty," Le Pen wrote in a statement.

"Nobody is rejoicing at this situation and everyone in France shares the Belgians' concerns. At this time of the Belgian national day, it is nevertheless the responsibility of France and the French to extend a hand to the Walloons. "If Belgium is going to split, if Flanders pronounces its independence, which seems more and more credible a possibility, the French republic would do well to welcome Wallonia to its heart." Le PenShe said there were "historic and fraternal links that unite our two people", and these links were "too strong for France to abandon the Walloons". She said any such plan should be agreed by a referendum in both countries.


        
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Emanuel Paparella2011-07-24 14:25:56
Indeed, once the universalism and multiculturalist vision of the EU founding fathers is abandoned what is left is the old nefarious nationalism. The tragedy that just unfolded in Norway is also related to this extreme right lunatic idea of the purity of the race, xenophobia and opposition to multiculturalism. As I said in my articles on the EU founding fathers, those who reject their heritage are bound to repeat the worst features of their previous history.


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